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Henry Gray (1825–1861).  Anatomy of the Human Body.  1918.
 
orifice of the stomach, opposite the eleventh thoracic vertebra. The general direction of the esophagus is vertical; but it presents two slight curves in its course. At its commencement it is placed in the middle line; but it inclines to the left side as far as the root of the neck, gradually passes to the middle line again at the level of the fifth thoracic vertebra, and finally deviates to the left as it passes forward to the esophageal hiatus in the diaphragm. The esophagus also presents antero-posterior flexures corresponding to the curvatures of the cervical and thoracic portions of the vertebral column. It is the narrowest part of the digestive tube, and is most contracted at its commencement, and at the point where it passes through the diaphragm.


FIG. 1032– The position and relation of the esophagus in the cervical region and in the posterior mediastinum. Seen from behind. (Poirier and Charpy.) (See enlarged image)


Relations.—The cervical portion of the esophagus is in relation, in front, with the trachea; and at the lower part of the neck, where it projects to the left side, with the thyroid gland; behind, it rests upon the vertebral column and Longus colli muscles; on either side it is in relation with the common carotid artery (especially the left, as it inclines to that side), and parts of the lobes of the thyroid gland; the recurrent nerves ascend between it and the trachea; to its left side is the thoracic duct.
  The thoracic portion of the esophagus is at first situated in the superior mediastinum between the trachea and the vertebral column, a little to the left of the median line. It then passes behind and to the right of the aortic arch, and descends in the posterior mediastinum along the right side of the descending aorta, then runs in front and a little to the left of the aorta, and enters the abdomen through the diaphragm at the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra. Just before it perforates the diaphragm it presents a distinct dilatation. It is in

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